Serbia's Novak Djokovic, left, holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after defeating Austria's Dominic Thiem in the final of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Feb 3, 2020. (LEE JIN-MAN / AP)
MELBOURNE - Novak Djokovic claimed his eighth Australian Open championship on Sunday evening, beating Austrian Dominic Thiem, 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, in a thrilling final which kept fans guessing until the end.
Definitely my favourite court and my favourite stadium in the world and I'm blessed to hold this trophy once again.
Novak Djokovic, tennis player
The Serbian master fought from two sets down to cement his place as king of Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena, remaining undefeated in a final there, and taking his total number of Grand Slam titles to 17.
"Definitely my favourite court and my favourite stadium in the world and I'm blessed to hold this trophy once again," Djokovic said after the match.
"Grand Slams are one of the reasons I am still competing and still trying to obviously get the historic number one."
"I'm super happy with the way I've started the season, it sets the tone for the rest of the year, and significantly boosts your confidence."
His opponent, 26-year-old Thiem, had previously lost two French Open finals to Rafael Nadal and was denied claiming his first ever Grand Slam title.
He said that playing in the era with Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer made winning a Grand Slam more difficult, but not impossible.
"I gave everything I had and Novak is one of three guys who are by far the best players ever to play tennis," Thiem told media after the match.
Austria's Dominic Thiem plays a shot back between his legs to Serbia's Novak Djokovic during the men's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Feb 2, 2020. (ANDY BROWNBILL / AP)
"It was easier for sure in a different era to win big titles, but I'm happy that I can compete with these guys on the best level and I really hope that I win my maiden slam while they're still around, because it just counts more."
During a heated match, Djokovic dropped six games in a row after an exchange with the umpire, and appeared to be on the ropes, requiring a medical time out, before bouncing back from two sets down to retain his crown.
Serving at 4-4 in the second set, Djokovic received two time violations for taking too long to serve, a decision which clearly frustrated the Serbian and caused him to give up the break.
During the change of ends a displeased Djokovic exchanged words with chair umpire Damien Dumusois and tapped him on the foot, a move which is strictly prohibited and could have resulted in a fine for Djokovic.
"Great job. You made yourself famous, well done. Mission accomplished," Djokovic could be heard saying to Dumusois.
Taking advantage of the situation, Thiem clinched an unbelievable break in the first game of the third set and quickly broke again to find himself in the enviable position of 4-0, before going on to claim a two set lead.
Djokovic left the court midway between the third and fourth sets on a medical timeout, a move which drew criticism from some observers.
With a history making win in sight for Thiem, the players traded serves until the Serb found a chink in the Austrian's game, grabbing the break and surging through to make it two sets all.
At the start of the crucial final set Djokovic once again began to emerge on top of rallies, edging ahead with a break on the back of a number of the errors by Thiem.
The Austrian's powerful forehand finally let him down, sailing over the baseline allowing Djokovic to the serve to claim the championship.
Throughout rain, hail and shine over 800,000 attended the 2020 Australian Open which has been growing in scale every year.
In addition six million dollars was raised through the event to support bushfire relief across the country.
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